2017 NFL Mock Draft - Kevin Hanson- Updated: Friday, March 24th
Now that the NFL Scouting Combine and bulk of free-agent moves are behind us, we have a better idea of what will happen next month in Philadelphia.
That said, it's virtually impossible to predict to how things will play out moments before the start of the draft, let alone with more than a month ago.
Over the next five weeks or so, this 2017 NFL Mock Draft will change, perhaps significantly, and we will continue to add more rounds until we mock out all 253 draft picks.
Given that, here is how Round 1 could play out based on what we currently know:
1. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
No position in sports, not just football, is more important than quarterback and the Browns lack of success in finding their franchise quarterback has been well-documented. Even though the Browns used a third-round pick on Cody Kessler in last year's draft, the quarterback position remains unsettled for the long term.
With so many other holes on the roster, however, Garrett is all but a lock as the No. 1 overall pick.
Only the Raiders (25) recorded fewer sacks than the Browns (26) last season, but Emmanuel Ogbah, one of the team's 2016 second-round picks, led the team with 5.5 sacks last year. Racking up 31.0 sacks in 34 career games, Garrett has the length, burst and freakish athleticism to make an immediate impact and the potential to develop into a perenniel All-Pro pass-rusher.
2. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
At best, the quarterback position moved sideways this offseason as Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley replace Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert. For now, Hoyer should lead the 49ers in 2017 QB starts, but Kirk Cousins appears to be at least a 50-50 proposition to enter 2018 as the team's starter.
I debated a few non-QBs here, and the only pause with Thomas is that the 49ers (albeit Trent Baalke) selected defensive linemen with back-to-back first-round picks in 2015 (Arik Armstead) and 2016 (DeForest Buckner). The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Thomas has a tireless motor to go along with outstanding quickness and strength.
Watching Stanford's Solomon Thomas looks incredibly similar to watching JJ Watt when he was coming out of Wisconsin. Very, very, similar— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) January 4, 2017
3. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Signing Mike Glennon to a three-year deal in free agency all but eliminates the possibility that the Bears use this pick on a quarterback. If things don't work out, however, it would only be a $4.5 million cap hit for the Bears to move on after the 2017 season.
With a first-round pedigree (father George was a first-round pick in 1984), Adams has the versatility to play either safety spot and is a defensive tone-setter.
MORE: Bears select a QB in my way-too-early 2018 NFL Mock Draft
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
One year after giving Malik Jackson a massive free-agent deal, the Jags signed Calais Campbell to a $60 million contract. Perhaps there are some concerns about arthritis in his shoulders or his overall level of athleticism, but Allen give the Jags another highly disruptive and productive run-dominant defensive lineman with the versatility to play multiple spots along the line.
5. Tennessee Titans (Draft History), via Rams: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Lattimore sustained a hip flexor or hamstring injury (depending on whom you ask), but he participated in on-field drills at Ohio State's Pro Day on Thursday. His history of hamstring injuries is a potential concern with Lattimore, but he has elite athleticism (4.36 forty and 38.5-inch vertical) and cover skills. The additions of Logan Ryan (free agency) and Lattimore here would help shore up arguably the team's biggest offseason need.
6. New York Jets (Draft History): Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Adding Josh McCown, who turns 38 in July, to the quarterback room on a one-year deal doesn't eliminate the team's need to find a long-term solution at quarterback. ESPN's Rich Cimini puts the "over/under" on McCown starts at four and expects last year's second-round reach, Christian Hackenberg, to make starts.
The biggest knock on Trubisky is his relative lack of experience as a starter, but he could at least enter the 2017 season as the backup to McCown in this scenario. Possessing a strong arm and mobility, Trubisky completed 68.2 percent of his pass attempts with 30 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 2016.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (Draft History): Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Drawing comparisons to Ed Reed, Hooker is a play-making safety with tremendous range and finished his first season as a starter with seven interceptions. A pair of surgeries kept him from working out at the combine, but Hooker would be a Day 1 starter and upgrade for Gus Bradley's defense.
8. Carolina Panthers (Draft History): Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The last time Jonathan Stewart did not miss at least three games in a season was 2011, recently turned 30 and averaged just 3.8 yards per carry last season. The Panthers signed Stewart to a one-year extension, but perhaps more than anything, that helps to alleviate his cap hit in 2017. With a unique combination of size, power and speed, Fournette would help take some pressure off of Cam Newton, who recently underwent shoulder surgery, and significantly upgrade the long-term outlook of their rushing attack.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (Draft History): Rueben Foster, LB, Alabama
Releasing Rey Maualuga would save the Bengals $3.6 million and the free-agent addition of Kevin Minter all but makes that a foregone conclusion. Signing Minter (to a one-year deal) won't preclude the Bengals from drafting a talent like Foster. In addition, weak side linebacker Vontaze Burfict will be a free agent after the 2017 season. The Butkus Award winner as college football's top linebacker, Foster is a devastating hitter with sideline-to-sideline range.
10. Buffalo Bills (Draft History): O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Before the start of free agency, there was rampant speculation that the Bills would part ways with Tyrod Taylor -- and many mocks, including mine, had the Bills selecting a quarterback in this slot. With Taylor agreeing to a restructured deal (or pay cut), adding reinforcements would make sense especially given the durability track record of stud receiver Sammy Watkins. The Bills could add another wideout, such as Clemson's Mike Williams or Western Michigan's Corey Davis, but Howard is a complete tight end that excels as a blocker while also possessing elite physical tools (4.51 forty at 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds) to create mismatches in the passing game.
11. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Extremely productive as a college pass rusher, Barnett broke Reggie White's all-time sack record at Tennessee despite playing only three seasons. In fact, the junior edge rusher became the first player in SEC history to record double-digit sacks in three different seasons.
12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History), via Eagles: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
While Watson has thrown 30 interceptions over the past two seasons combined and that's a concern, the dual-threat quarterback is a natural leader and has come up big in big spots. Leading Clemson to consecutive title game appearances and a national championship win in January, Watson has 825 passing yards, 116 rushing yards, eight total touchdowns and only one interception in the past two championship games combined.
13. Arizona Cardinals (Draft History): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Based on talent, Davis and Clemson's Mike Williams are both worthy of being top-10 picks. Davis has dominated lesser competition with 1,400-plus yards and 12-plus touchdowns in each of his past three seasons. The senior receiver has excellent size (6-3, 213), speed, hands and is an outstanding route-runner.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (Draft History), via MIN: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency addresses one of their biggest needs this offseason. Another big need that hasn't yet been addressed is the secondary. Last year's starting cornerbacks -- Nolan Carroll and Jalen Mills -- graded out as PFF's 92nd and 112th (of 112) cornerbacks last season and Carroll is now in Dallas. If teammate Lattimore is the top cornerback in this year's draft class, you could argue that Conley is the second best.
15. Indianapolis Colts (Draft History): Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
A three-down linebacker prospect with tremendous speed and range, Reddick began his Temple career as a walk-on safety and has played a variety of roles for the Owls. Last year, Reddick finished with 22.5 tackles for loss, third-most in college football, and a team-high 10.5 sacks.
16. Baltimore Ravens (Draft History): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Without Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken, the Ravens will rely on Mike Wallace, a free agent after the 2017 season, and former first-rounder Breshad Perriman, who missed the 2015 season due to injury and posted a 33/499/3 line in 2016. Both Wallace and Perriman have elite speed as vertical receivers, something that Williams doesn't possess, but he has the talent to develop into a true No. 1 receiver and the size and physicality to overpower defensive backs.
- Continue to picks 17-32 in our 2017 NFL Mock Draft
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